Dr Nick Thomson

Researcher

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Bacterial Genomics and Metagenomics

Links/websites:

I am interested in using genetic engineering to push the boundaries of what bacteria are able to do, improving upon processes that they naturally possess and engineering new capabilities that are not found in nature.

I did my PhD at the University of Cambridge, working on the production of a type of biodegradable plastic called poly(hydroxybutyrate) by bacteria. As well as looking at ways to improve the yield of production from bacteria, I also improved the production and purification of the key enzyme in the process (PhaC), making it easier both to study the mechanism of the polymerization reaction and to produce poly(hydroxybutyrate) in vitro.

Following my PhD, I won a position as a Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher at RIKEN, Tokyo, Japan. Here, I characterized an E. coli-based ‘cell factory’ in which the cells can be prevented from growing, while remaining metabolically active. This diverts valuable carbon sources away from the wasteful production of more cells and towards the production of the desired product. I measured changes in the concentration of metabolites and proteins in the cells as they entered the non-growing, productive ‘quiescent’ phase. More recently I returned to Cambridge for a proof-of-principle study, in collaboration with the Centre for Process Innovation, to demonstrate that these Q-cells can improve the production efficiency of commodity chemicals at the commercial scale.

My current research focuses on creating ‘smart probiotics’ by attaching functional enzymes to the outer surfaces of bacteria that are able to colonise the gut. These enzymes will add new metabolic capabilities to the bacteria. They will therefore be better able to digest food, compete with pathogens and alter the balance of species inhabiting the gut. In the future, we hope that this will allow us to improve public health (for example, by removing saturated fats before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream), reduce hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, and fight conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Baker DJ,Aydin A,Le Viet T,Kay GL,Rudder S,de Oliveira Martins L,Tedim AP,Kolyva A,Diaz M,Alikhan NF,Meadows L,Bell A,Gutierrez AV,Trotter AJ,Thomson NM,Gilroy R,Griffith L,Adriaenssens EM,Stanley R,Charles IG,Elumogo N,Wain J,Prakash R,Meader E,Mather AE,Webber M,Dervisevic S,Page AJ,O J. (2021)

CoronaHiT: high-throughput sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 genomes.

Genome medicine


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Volz E,Hill V,McCrone JT,Price A,Jorgensen D,O'Toole Á,Southgate J,Johnson R,Jackson B,Nascimento FF,Rey SM,Nicholls SM,Colquhoun RM,da Silva,Shepherd J,Pascall DJ,Shah R,Jesudason N,Li K,Jarrett R,Pacchiarini N,Bull M,Geidelberg L,Siveroni I,Goodfellow I,Loman NJ,Pybus OG,Robertson DL,Thomson EC,Rambaut A,Connor TR,Koshy C,Wise E,Cortes N,Lynch J,Kidd S,Mori M,Fairley DJ,Curran T,McKenna JP,Adams H,Fraser C,Golubchik T,Bonsall D,Moore C,Caddy SL,Khokhar FA,Wantoch M,Reynolds N,Warne B,Maksimovic J,Spellman K,McCluggage K,John M,Beer R,Afifi S,Morgan S,Marchbank A,Price A,Kitchen C,Gulliver H,Merrick I,Southgate J,Guest M,Munn R,Workman T,Connor TR,Fuller W,Bresner C,Snell LB,Charalampous T,Nebbia G,Batra R,Edgeworth J,Robson SC,Beckett A,Loveson KF,Aanensen DM,Underwood AP,Yeats CA,Abudahab K,Taylor BEW,Menegazzo M,Clark G,Smith W,Khakh M,Fleming VM,Lister MM,Howson-Wells HC,Berry L,Boswell T,Joseph A,Willingham I,Bird P,Helmer T,Fallon K,Holmes C,Tang J,Raviprakash V,Campbell S,Sheriff N,Loose MW,Holmes N,Moore C,Carlile M,Wright V,Sang F,Debebe J,Coll F,Signell AW,Betancor G,Wilson HD,Feltwell T,Houldcroft CJ,Eldirdiri S,Kenyon A,Davis T,Pybus O,du Plessis,Zarebski A,Raghwani J,Kraemer M,Francois S,Attwood S,Vasylyeva T,Torok ME,Hamilton WL,Goodfellow IG,Hall G,Jahun AS,Chaudhry Y,Hosmillo M,Pinckert ML,Georgana I,Yakovleva A,Meredith LW,Moses S,Lowe H,Ryan F,Fisher CL,Awan AR,Boyes J,Breuer J,Harris KA,Brown JR,Shah D,Atkinson L,Lee JCD,Alcolea-Medina A,Moore N,Cortes N,Williams R,Chapman MR,Levett LJ,Heaney J,Smith DL,Bashton M,Young GR,Allan J,Loh J,Randell PA,Cox A,Madona P,Holmes A,Bolt F,Price J,Mookerjee S,Rowan A,Taylor GP,Ragonnet-Cronin M,Nascimento FF,Jorgensen D,Siveroni I,Johnson R,Boyd O,Geidelberg L,Volz EM,Brunker K,Smollett KL,Loman NJ,Quick J,McMurray C,Stockton J,Nicholls S,Rowe W,Poplawski R,Martinez-Nunez RT,Mason J,Robinson TI,O'Toole E,Watts J,Breen C,Cowell A,Ludden C,Sluga G,Machin NW,Ahmad SSY,George RP,Halstead F,Sivaprakasam V,Thomson EC,Shepherd JG,Asamaphan P,Niebel MO,Li KK,Shah RN,Jesudason NG,Parr YA,Tong L,Broos A,Mair D,Nichols J,Carmichael SN,Nomikou K,Aranday-Cortes E,Johnson N,Starinskij I,da Silva,Robertson DL,Orton RJ,Hughes J,Vattipally S,Singer JB,Hale AD,Macfarlane-Smith LR,Harper KL,Taha Y,Payne BAI,Burton-Fanning S,Waugh S,Collins J,Eltringham G,Templeton KE,McHugh MP,Dewar R,Wastenge E,Dervisevic S,Stanley R,Prakash R,Stuart C,Elumogo N,Sethi DK,Meader EJ,Coupland LJ,Potter W,Graham C,Barton E,Padgett D,Scott G,Swindells E,Greenaway J,Nelson A,Yew WC,Resende Silva,Andersson M,Shaw R,Peto T,Justice A,Eyre D,Crooke D,Hoosdally S,Sloan TJ,Duckworth N,Walsh S,Chauhan AJ,Glaysher S,Bicknell K,Wyllie S,Butcher E,Elliott S,Lloyd A,Impey R,Levene N,Monaghan L,Bradley DT,Allara E,Pearson C,Muir P,Vipond IB,Hopes R,Pymont HM,Hutchings S,Curran MD,Parmar S,Lackenby A,Mbisa T,Platt S,Miah S,Bibby D,Manso C,Hubb J,Chand M,Dabrera G,Ramsay M,Bradshaw D,Thornton A,Myers R,Schaefer U,Groves N,Gallagher E,Lee D,Williams D,Ellaby N,Harrison I,Hartman H,Manesis N,Patel V,Bishop C,Chalker V,Osman H,Bosworth A,Robinson E,Holden MTG,Shaaban S,Birchley A,Adams A,Davies A,Gaskin A,Plimmer A,Gatica-Wilcox B,McKerr C,Moore C,Williams C,Heyburn D,De Lacy,Hilvers E,Downing F,Shankar G,Jones H,Asad H,Coombes J,Watkins J,Evans JM,Fina L,Gifford L,Gilbert L,Graham L,Perry M,Morgan M,Bull M,Cronin M,Pacchiarini N,Craine N,Jones R,Howe R,Corden S,Rey S,Kumziene-Summerhayes S,Taylor S,Cottrell S,Jones S,Edwards S,O'Grady J,Page AJ,Wain J,Webber MA,Mather AE,Baker DJ,Rudder S,Yasir M,Thomson NM,Aydin A,Tedim AP,Kay GL,Trotter AJ,Gilroy RAJ,Alikhan NF,de Oliveira,Le Viet T,Meadows L,Kolyva A,Diaz M,Bell A,Gutierrez AV,Charles IG,Adriaenssens EM,Kingsley RA,Casey A,Simpson DA,Molnar Z,Thompson T,Acheson E,Masoli JAH,Knight BA,Hattersley A,Ellard S,Auckland C,Mahungu TW,Irish-Tavares D,Haque T,Bourgeois Y,Scarlett GP,Partridge DG,Raza M,Evans C,Johnson K,Liggett S,Baker P,Essex S,Lyons RA,Caller LG,Castellano S,Williams RJ,Kristiansen M,Roy S,Williams CA,Dyal PL,Tutill HJ,Panchbhaya YN,Forrest LM,Niola P,Findlay J,Brooks TT,Gavriil A,Mestek-Boukhibar L,Weeks S,Pandey S,Berry L,Jones K,Richter A,Beggs A,Smith CP,Bucca G,Hesketh AR,Harrison EM,Peacock SJ,Palmer S,Churcher CM,Bellis KL,Girgis ST,Naydenova P,Blane B,Sridhar S,Ruis C,Forrest S,Cormie C,Gill HK,Dias J,Higginson EE,Maes M,Young J,Kermack LM,Hadjirin NF,Aggarwal D,Griffith L,Swingler T,Davidson RK,Rambaut A,Williams T,Balcazar CE,Gallagher MD,O'Toole Á,Rooke S,Jackson B,Colquhoun R,Ashworth J,Hill V,McCrone JT,Scher E,Yu X,Williamson KA,Stanton TD,Michell SL,Bewshea CM,Temperton B,Michelsen ML,Warwick-Dugdale J,Manley R,Farbos A,Harrison JW,Sambles CM,Studholme DJ,Jeffries AR,Darby AC,Hiscox JA,Paterson S,Iturriza-Gomara M,Jackson KA,Lucaci AO,Vamos EE,Hughes M,Rainbow L,Eccles R,Nelson C,Whitehead M,Turtle L,Haldenby ST,Gregory R,Gemmell M,Kwiatkowski D,de Silva,Smith N,Angyal A,Lindsey BB,Groves DC,Green LR,Wang D,Freeman TM,Parker MD,Keeley AJ,Parsons PJ,Tucker RM,Brown R,Wyles M,Constantinidou C,Unnikrishnan M,Ott S,Cheng JKJ,Bridgewater HE,Frost LR,Taylor-Joyce G,Stark R,Baxter L,Alam MT,Brown PE,McClure PC,Chappell JG,Tsoleridis T,Ball J,Gramatopoulos D,Buck D,Todd JA,Green A,Trebes A,MacIntyre-Cockett G,de Cesare,Langford C,Alderton A,Amato R,Goncalves S,Jackson DK,Johnston I,Sillitoe J,Palmer S,Lawniczak M,Berriman M,Danesh J,Livett R,Shirley L,Farr B,Quail M,Thurston S,Park N,Betteridge E,Weldon D,Goodwin S,Nelson R,Beaver C,Letchford L,Jackson DA,Foulser L,McMinn L,Prestwood L,Kay S,Kane L,Dorman MJ,Martincorena I,Puethe C,Keatley JP,Tonkin-Hill G,Smith C,Jamrozy D,Beale MA,Patel M,Ariani C,Spencer-Chapman M,Drury E,Lo S,Rajatileka S,Scott C,James K,Buddenborg SK,Berger DJ,Patel G,Garcia-Casado MV,Dibling T,McGuigan S,Rogers HA,Hunter AD,Souster E,Neaverson AS. (2021)

Evaluating the Effects of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Mutation D614G on Transmissibility and Pathogenicity.

Cell


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Zhang CZ,Zhang Y,Ding XM,Lin XL,Lian XL,Trampari E,Thomson NM,Ding HZ,Webber MA,Jiang HX. (2020)

Emergence of ciprofloxacin heteroresistance in foodborne Salmonella enterica serovar Agona.

The Journal of antimicrobial chemotherapy


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Foster-Nyarko E,Alikhan NF,Ravi A,Thilliez G,Thomson N,Baker D,Kay G,Antonio M,O J,Pallen MJ. (2020)

Genomic diversity of Escherichia coli isolates from non-human primates in the Gambia

Microbial Genomics, 6


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Thomson NM,Zhang C,Trampari E,Pallen MJ. (2020)

Creation of Golden Gate constructs for Gene Doctoring

BMC Biotechnology


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Holden ER,Wickham GJ,Webber MA,Thomson NM,Trampari E. (2020)

Donor plasmids for phenotypically neutral chromosomal gene insertions in Enterobacteriaceae.

Microbiology (Reading, England)


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Ravi A., Halstead F. D., Bamford A., Casey A., Thomson N. M., van Schaik W., Snelson C., Goulden R., Foster-Nyarko E., Savva G. M., Whitehouse T., Pallen M., Oppenheim B. A.. (2019)

Loss of microbial diversity and pathogen domination of the gut microbiota in critically ill patients.

Microbial genomics, Volume 5, Issue 9, 10.1099/mgen.0.000293


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